Drive Safely This Labor Day August 29, 2014 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment Labor Day marks the end of summer and the summer vacation season. Throughout May, June, July and August many people travel around the world to see all kinds of amazing destinations, but Labor Day weekend marks a shift back to road trips and more local excursions. This means a lot of driving will occur, and, with that, comes a need to stay safe on the roads. The National Safety Council estimates that more than 395 fatalities will take place over the coming holiday weekend accounting, for almost 15% of the overall accident related deaths for the month of September. The NSC has found that from the Friday before Labor Day through the Monday holiday, fatalities rise 35% and even stay 16% higher than normal on the following Tuesday. However, the NSC’s report isn’t all negative. The group estimates that more than 150 lives may be saved by simply using a seatbelt and avoiding distracted driving. These three holiday driving tips will also help you and your family avoid any kind of hazardous situation: Get It Fixed The first step to becoming a road warrior is to make sure that your vehicle is in peak working condition. Nothing turns a trip from fun to miserable faster than having something break. Try to schedule a vehicle checkup before you travel. A quick look at a vehicle’s engine, radiator, fluids and (perhaps most importantly) tires can help avoid any unexpected pit stops, or at least those not caused by a 44oz drink. Building out an emergency bag isn’t a bad idea either. Ideally, this bag should include: a flashlight, tire gauge, tool kit (with wrenches and screwdrivers), duct tape, emergency stop sign, jumper wires, a small first aid kit, water, and a few rags or towels (both for cleaning and to help protect your knees from hot asphalt if you have to do any maintenance). Avoid the Madness You wouldn’t go to West Africa without checking on the status of the Ebola outbreak, so why would you travel without checking traffic? Be sure to plan ahead and try to avoid the holiday rush. Starting your adventure either before 4 p.m. or after 10 p.m. can help alleviate the stress that comes with rush hour traffic jams. Additionally, plan for secondary events that might be taking place around your own home. Parades, street fairs and sporting events are just some of the activities that will occur this weekend, and all of them could pose a potential headache for anyone trying to get around town, let alone take a long road trip. Be Smart These are the same basic rules that apply to travel anywhere, at any time, but they are extra important during high traffic times like holiday weekends. If you are tired, feeling sick or especially if you have been drinking, either hand the keys to someone else or delay starting your drive. You’re better off calling a cab or waiting a few hours than ending up as front-page news for the wrong reasons. Be sure to watch out for other drivers as well. The NSC says that defensive driving is one of the key factors in avoiding accidents and suggests being a defensive driver at all times, especially during bad or unexpected weather conditions. In those cases, pulling over can be your best option. Finally, if you have to use a cellphone or some type of electronic device like GPS while driving, please be careful. Passengers are almost always willing to help by talking to somebody for you or being a navigator to allow the driver to focus on the road. If you have to make a call while driving, either use a hands-free device, or pull over and then make the call. We hope you have a safe and happy holiday weekend, and, if you do find yourself traveling to any exotic regions or have any questions about international travel, feel free to contact one of our Passport Health travel health specialists today!